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Reading in a Second Language
David E. Eskey! University of Southern California
INTRODUCTION Reading and Second Language Acquisition
For second language learners, reading may be both a means to the end of acquiring the language, as a major source of comprehensible input, and an end in itself, as the skill that many serious learners most need to employ. Many students of English as a Foreign Language (EFU, for example, rarely speak the language in their day-to-day lives but may need to read it in order to access the wealth of information recorded exclusively in the language. In complementary fashion, this reading can serve as an excellent source of the authentic language students need to interact with in quantity-language that is always meaningful, often in fully grammatical form, and that includes every feature of the target language but pronunciation. Krashen (1993) claims that students who read frequently acquire, involuntarily and without conscious effort, nearly all of the so-called "language skills" many people are so concerned about. They will become adequate readers, acquire a large vocabulary, develop the ability to understand and use complex grammatical constructions, develop a good writing style, and become good (but not necessarily perfect) spellers. (p. 84) In recognizing the truth of this claim (what Krashen sums up as "the power of reading"), the field has come a long way since the audiolingual era when reading and writing were marginalized as "secondary reinforcement" for learning the spoken language (Fries, 1945).
RESEARCH ON READING L1 Research Applied to L2
Specialists in second language (L2) reading are often criticized for depending too heavily on research in first language (Ll) reading, instead of focusing more narrowly
on studies of reading in a second language. There is some truth to this-especially in respect to language issues, which create far more problems for L2 readers than for L1 readers-but research on L1 reading provides a foundation for exploring both the similarities and differences between L1 and L2 reading. Just as in language acquisition research, where for years L2 specialists paid no attention to research in L1 language acquisition, despite its obvious relevance, similarities between these two kinds of reading far outweigh the differences. The differences are important and must be addressed, but reading is reading in any context, just as language acquisition is language acquisition. If human beings are the only living creatures who speak, they are also the only living creatures who read, and they do so in much the same way throughout the world. Children acquire language instinctively (Pinker, 1994). They must be taught literacy, but all writing systems are language based and share some fundamental characteristics. An Overview of Research on Reading In the 1960s before the advent of what has come to be known as "cognitive psychology," most research on reading was hardly worth-well, reading-because the then dominant behaviorist models in psychology could not accommodate discussion of mental events, and reading is, almost purely, a mental event. One major exception was Edmund Burke Huey's (1908) The Psychology and Pedagogy of Reading, but this sank without a trace in the behaviorist sea before being rediscovered in more recent times. Comparisons with linguistics (which Chomsky has always characterized as a branch of cognitive psychology) come to mind; but language behavior, in the form of spoken and written discourse, has always been accessible to direct empirical investigation, whereas reading produces almost no physical data for investigation, with the minor exception of eye movements. By the late 1970s,however, reading specialists like Kenneth Goodman (e.g, Goodman, 1975) and linguists like Ronald Wardhaugh (1977) were disputing the notion that reading is merely the passive side-complementing the active skill of writingof being literate. Like the other receptive skill listening (with which it has much in common as a psycholinguistic processing skill), reading is now generally understood to be an active, purposeful, and creative mental process in which the reader engages in the construction of meaning from a text, partly on the basis of new information provided by that text but also partly on the basis of whatever relevant prior knowledge, feelings, and opinions that reader brings to the task of making sense of the words on the page. Research in the 1970s and 1980s was characterized by a search for more accurate and more revealing models of the reading process. Major advances in our understanding of what readers actually do when they read followed from a shift in orientation from commonsense bottom-up (from text to brain) models of the process-in which the reader is assumed to decode precisely (in the case of English) from left to right, from letters into words, and from words into larger grammatical units in retrieving the writer's meaning, step by step, from the text-to a totally different kind of model, the so-called top-down (from brain to text) model of the reading process. This shift, sometimes referred to as the top-down revolution-a movement in which Goodman and, later, Frank Smith (e.g., Smith, 1973)were especially prominent-generated massive research support and was widely accepted, in one form or another, by reading specialists everywhere. Top-down descriptions of the reading process characterize it as what Goodman (1967)once called, in a famous remark, "a psycholinguistic guessing game." The notion is that readers do not decode in precise or sequential fashion but instead attack the text with expectations of meaning developed before and during the process, take in whole chunks of text (in short, jerky eye movements called saccades)
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making use of just as much of the visual information on the page as they need to confirm and extend their expectations-a process of predicting, sampling, and confirming in which readers interact with texts by combining information they discover there with the knowledge they bring to it in constructing a comprehensive meaning for the text as coherent discourse. Since prior knowledge plays such a major role in this conception of reading, reading specialists also devoted considerable aHention to research on schema theory, research that attempted to account for the way in which human beings store and organize information in networks of related notions called schemata (or, more rarely, plans, scripts, or scenarios). In this area, the work of Rumelhart and his associates was especially influential (e.g., Rumelhart, 1980). During the latter part of the 1980s, top-down models were increasingly challenged by proponents of interactive models of the process, who point out that strictly top-down models cannot fully account for the results of much empirical research (Stanovich, 1980, provides an excellent summary)-research that, for example, shows that skillful readers can process linguistic forms in print both more accurately and more rapidly than less skillful readers can even in context-free situations where no prediction is possible, and that weaker readers are as likely as strong ones to guess at meaning on the basis of prior knowledge-both results that run counter to top-down assumptions. From such research results, advocates for these interactive models (which should not be confused with the interactive reader /text process described earlier) infer that successful reading entails a balanced interaction between bottom-up and top-down processing skills, thus restoring the simple decoding of text to a more central role and raising doubts about the guessing game metaphor. Although it might be argued that these interactive models are simply modifications of the topdown approach, which do not involve the kind of radical new conception of the reading process that the movement from bottomup to top-down models entailed, they have become the standard for discussions of the psycholinguistics of reading. After this period of relative coherence during which most researchers focused on reading as a psycho linguistic process, reading research in the 1990s splintered into a number of incommensurate perspectives. By the late 1980s, reading research had, as noted, coalesced around interactive models, which give equal weight to bottomup processing of texts (i.e., decoding) and top-down construction of meanings for those texts (i.e., comprehension). Stanovich (1992) provides an excellent example of this balanced view. Today, however, the field is very much engaged in what Kamil, Intrator, & Kim (2000) describe as both "broadening the definition of reading" and "broadening the reading research agenda" to include a wide variety of social, cultural, neurobiological, and even political perspectives on reading. Recently, for example, many prominent researchers have moved beyond the study of reading as a psycholinguistic process to consider reading as a form of sociocultural practice. These researchers are concerned with such questions as how much, what, and why-as opposed to merely how-people read, if and when they do, with special reference to the reading behaviors of particular socioeconomic groups. Building on works on literacy by sociolinguists like Heath (1983) and Street (1984), such scholars as Gee (2000) have begun to explore this sociocultural dimension of reading. Others, like Friere (Friere & Macedo, 1987) and Shannon (1996), have taken this perspective to the level of "critical literacy" in which reading behavior is regarded as a form of political behavior. At the same time researchers in cognitive science have moved beyond psycholinguistic models toward work in neurobiology, and some studies have been done on the neurobiology of reading, especially in relation to dyslexia (Shaywitz et al., 2000). Still another direction is represented by studies of new technologies in reading that focus on the nature of reading in the rapidly expanding electronic media (Kamil & Lane, 1998).
These many new perspectives on reading research have been accompanied by related changes in research methodology. Experimental research has largely given way to classroom-centered action research (McFarland & Stansell, 1993) and narrative (Gilbert, 1993) and ethnographic approaches (e.g., Heath, 1983). There is less emphasis on the typical reader and more on targeted groups or individuals. Thus, protocol analyses (Pressley & Afflerbach, 1995) and case studies of single readers (Neuman & McCormick, 1995) have become increasingly popular. In contrast to information-processing models, these newer perspectives have given reading research a more human face but have also reduced the generalizability of its results and raised doubts about the internal coherence of a subject as broad and complex as reading. Since reading is a kind of experience (albeit in purely symbolic form), potentially involving the entire range of any reader's thought processes, feelings, imagination, and beliefs, as shaped by his or her genes and real-world experience, it is hardly surprising that no single model of reading behavior can dominate reading research for long. Even the boundaries of the topic are fluid, reading being just one instantiation of the larger concept of literacy. In the latest Handbook of Reading Research (Kamil et al., 2000), essentially the bible of reading researchers, all seven of the book's subheadings are labeled as discussions ofliteracy, not reading. As the editors of that volume suggest, the remarkable diversity of perspectives on reading characteristic of reading research today may either be described, optimistically, as "creating new frontiers of thought" or, more skeptically, as "creating confusion" about a subject that probably cannot be captured in a unified model.
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Research on Second Language Reading: Specific Issues
Whether in a first or a second language context, most reading research can be subsumed under three major headings, all of which have been mentioned in passingreading as a psycholinguistic process, reading as sociocultural practice, and reading as individual behavior-because every human reader is, simultaneously, 0) a member of the species (a human reader who reads as humans do, as opposed to some other kind of reader-a computer, for example), (2) a member of a network of sociocultural groups (possibly, in relation to the writer, a member of a radically different culture), and (3) an individual (and thus, within the limits established in (1) and (2), cognitively and affectively unique to some extent). Within this general framework, research in the following specific areas seems especially pertinent to major issues in the field of second language reading.
Reading as a Psycho linguistic Process Reading and Language Proficiency. Not surprisingly, the variable that correlates best with success in second language reading is proficiency in the language. Motivation and background knowledge (of content) are also important, but reading begins with decoding of language; and reading comprehension, although it involves both bottom-up and top-down processing, begins with, and so depends on, rapid and accurate decoding of the text (Birch, 2002). In any discussion of second language reading, the place to begin is thus proficiency in the language. Serious discussion of this issue can be traced to Clarke's (1980) "short-circuit" hypothesis, which challenged the notion that skillful readers in one language could simply transfer their skills to reading in a second language (the so-called "language interdependence" hypothesis; see, e.g., Cummins, 1984). Clarke argued for a language proficiency "threshold" i readers whose knowledge of the target language fell below that threshold, no matter how proficient in their first language reading, could not transfer their skills to their second language
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reading until they had mastered more of the language. Hudson (1982) demonstrated that this threshold cannot be identified in absolute terms but varies with the reader's motivation and knowledge. Clarke's basic premise however has stood the test of time and was. addressed most extensively in Alderson's (2000) book-length treatment of the subject. With reference to the competing hypotheses, Carrell (2001) observes, in relation to a more recent study:
It may be more profitable to think of these two hypotheses in terms of Bernhardt and Kamil's restatements of them: "How first language (LI) literate does a second language reader have to be to make the second language knowledge work?" and "How much second language (L2)
knowledge does a second language reader have to have in order to make the first language (LI) reading knowledge work?" (Bernhardt & Kamil, 1995, P: 32)
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Reading and Vocabulary. The relationship between reading and knowledge of vocabulary is well-documented and reciprocal. It is now well understood that the best (some would argue the only) way to acquire the extensive vocabulary required for reading widely in a second language is reading itself, and it is equally well understood that a prerequisite for such reading is an extensive vocabulary-a classic chicken and egg situation. Edward Fry (1981) has claimed that readers who encounter more than one unknown word in twenty in a text will be reading at what he calls "frustration level" and will thus be unlikely to continue reading-a sobering thought for teachers of adult second language readers who want to read adult material but often lack the vocabulary required to do so successfully. Huckin, Haynes, and Coady (1993) provide a good summary of research for second language readers, addressing most of the major issues, starting with automatic word recognition, a "necessary but not sufficient" condition (Stanovich, 1991) for successful reading comprehension. For second language readers, the issues are obviously more complex. Such readers are often slower and less automatic in recognizing words in the target language than first language readers are (Favreau & Segalowitz, 1983). In subsequent studies, Segalowitz, Segalowitz, and Wood (1998) have shown that extended experience in reading a second language has positive effects on word recognition for adult subjects, and Geva, Wade-Woolley, and Shaney (1993) have explored this issue with younger learners learning to read in two languages. Both studies show that the development of fast and accurate word-recognition skills is a complex process for second language readers that involves a wide range of knowledge and skills. Many texts for the teaching of second language reading promote guessing from context as a major means of decoding unknown words, but research suggests that this strategy is overrated and often leads to misidentifications (Bensoussan & Laufer, 1984). Similarly, research demonstrates that second language readers, whether guessing or not, frequently misidentify words (Bernhardt, 1991). Thus, although reading remains the best means of acquiring a larger vocabulary, care must be taken not to immerse readers in texts that are lexically beyond them, which does in fact reduce reading to a kind of guessing game. The reciprocal relationship mentioned earlier between reading and vocabulary must, in practice, be handled with care: Second language readers should be lexically prepared for any texts assigned and the texts should meet, or be taught in such a way as to meet, Krashen's i + 1 standard for comprehensibility. Vocabulary cannot be force-fed through reading, and second language readers cannot read texts that are lexically beyond their proficiency. Reading and Grammar. Although a firm grasp of syntax is obviously required for successful decoding, researchers in this area have not been successful in disentangling knowledge of sentence structure from other kinds of knowledge-especially
knowledge of vocabulary-to determine its particular contribution prehension. Some work has been done on syntactic simplification but the results are inconclusive. Carrell (2001) summarizes:
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... the research on syntactic simplification and elaboration shows that while syntactic simplification can enhance foreign or second language reading comprehension, the picture is a complex one, with linguistic complexity interacting with such other factors as age, proficiency level, cultural background knowledge, and, possibly, item type.
Reading and Text Structure. At the level of discourse, research suggests that knowledge of text structure contributes to reading comprehension (Carrell, 1992; Riley, 1993). That is, a reader who understands the way in which the kind of discourse he or she is reading is typically organized and will find it easier to comprehend such texts. Like knowledge of the lexis and grammar of a language, this kind of knowledge is part of what readers need to know to read successfully in a second language. Reading Rate
Fluent decoding depends on the reader having achieved what reading specialists call "automaticity," that is, the ability to convert most written language into meaningful information so automatically that the reader does not have to think about the language and can concentrate on combining the information obtained with background knowledge to construct a meaning for the text. This requires the kinds of knowledge reviewed earlier-knowledge of the real world and knowledge of lexis, grammar, and text structure-but it also requires the skill of reading in meaningful groups of words, sometimes called" chunking" and often described in terms of reading rate, the ability to decode so many words per minute. Fluent decoding is thus both rapid and accurate decoding, because the human brain cannot acquire information from language that it does not understand or from language that is being processed too slowly. In practice, the two are interrelated, given the way in which the human memory system works. The system has three parts: sensory store, short-term memory, and long-term memory (Stevick, 1976). Sensory store merely records the visual image of the script or print the reader is reading. Short-term memory converts this image into meaningful information. Since it holds only 5 to 7 units at a time, for efficient reading these units must be reasonably large and meaningful. The units cannot be individual words, that, similarly, have little meaning by themselves. Words do not, as common sense suggests, give meaning to sentences so much as sentences give meaning to words. Consider these sentences: There is water in the well. He was sick but he is well now. He plays football wel/. He saw tears well up in her eyes. "Well, I don't know," he said. By itself, the word well has many possible meanings-and therefore no clear meaning-but when combined with other words, it takes on clear meanings. To read for meaning, then, a reader must bring meaningful groups of words into shortterm memory. Letter-by-letter or word-by-word reading fill short-term memory with meaningless units; no meaningful information gets through to combine with the reader's background knowledge for placement in long-term memory (where knowledge is stored in the form of concepts or ideas, not words). Automaticity is thus a product of both knowledge of language and skill in processing language in written form.
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Successful reading begins with fluent decoding, but this must be accompanied by the reader's construction of a meaning for the text (commonly referred to as reading comprehension), which goes well beyond decoding. Every written text provides information for the reader, but the meaning of the text must be determined by a reader who can relate that information to some relevant body of knowledge. To make sense of the new information provided by a text, or written discourse, a reader must have some knowledge of what the discourse is about-its content-to which to relate that new information. The reader's brain is not an empty container to be filled with meaning from the text. The brain is full of knowledge in the form of schemata, which collectively add up to "a picture of the world," according to Frank Smith (1975), that readers carry around in their heads. Therefore the brain relates new information taken from the text to the much larger body of knowledge it already has to make sense of or give a meaning to the text as a whole. As Smith says "what the brain tells the eyes" is much more important that "what the eyes tell the brain." If a reader cannot determine what a text is about, that reader cannot comprehend the discourse it contains even if he or she can decode the text perfectly. For example, many people can decode each of the sentences in the following "opaque" text but cannot even say what the text is about, let alone what it means: The procedure is quite simple. First, you arrange the items in separate piles. Of course, one pile may be sufficient depending on how much there is to do. If you have to go somewhere else due to lack of facilities, that is the next step; otherwise, you are pretty well set. It is important not to overdo things. That is, it is better to do too few things at once than too many. In the short run, this may not seem important but complications can easily arise. A mistake can be expensive as well. At first, the whole procedure will seem complicated. Soon, however, it will become just another facet of life. It is difficult to foresee any end to the necessity for this task in the immediate future, but then, one never can tell. After the procedure is completed, one arranges the materials into different groups again. Then they can be put into their appropriate places. Eventually they will be used once more and the whole cycle will then have to be repeated. However, that is part of life. When told that the subject is washing clothes, however, most readers can apply that knowledge to a second reading of the text and suddenly understand it perfectly. By contrast, most American readers have no trouble comprehending the following (relatively) normal text and answering the comprehension questions that follow: It was the day of the big party. Mary wondered if Johnny would like a kite. She ran to her bedroom, picked up her piggy bankand shook it. There was no sound! 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. Does this story take place in the past, present, What did Mary wonder? What does the word would signal? What is a kite? What is a piggy bank? What kind of party is this text about? Are Mary and Johnny adults or children? How is the kite related to the party? Why did Mary shake her piggy bank? Mary has a big problem; what is it? or future?
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structures in English and recognizes the text as a story); but to answer the second five questions (simple enough for most native speakers but more problematical for nonnative speakers who may not have a Western kids' birthday party schema), the reader must bring cultural knowledge to the text, which provides no direct information on these topics. In other words, to comprehend even this simple story, a reader must, simultaneously, engage in bottom-up decoding and top-down interpretation of the text to construct a plausible meaning for it, a process called parallel processing. Thus, reading as a psycholinguistic process, when performed successfully, entails both rapid and accurate decoding and the construction of meaning based on prior knowledge. Second language readers often have problems with both processes.
Reading as Sociocultural
It is now generally understood that literacy varies from culture to culture. That is, the members of different cultures do different kinds of reading (and writing) for different purposes. Most human beings learn to speak at least one language and therefore use language to communicate with others, but people must be taught to read and may never learn to do so. As human beings we have what could fairly be called a biological instinct to learn to speak, but we must be taught to read in some particular culture that employs written language for some particular purposes. Thus becoming literate means not only acquiring the kinds of skills and knowledge already discussed; it also means being enculturated (to the reader's own culture) or acculturated (to another culture) in a kind of apprenticeship, which Smith (1988) has compared to joining a club-the literacy club-composed of those who read and write in some particular culture.
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Ll/L2: Phonology and Orthography. Given the variety of writing systems, even decoding may differ crosslinguistically. Among others, Koda (1989) and Haynes and Carr (1990) have determined, for example, that students of English as a Second Language (ESL) who have learned to read in a language that does not employ an alphabetic writing system often have problems in decoding English texts. Reading and Background Knowledge (Cultural Discourses). At higher levels, most writers write for a culturally similar audience of readers and thus assume that these readers share a common knowledge base and a common value system, but common knowledge and values vary across groups (e.g., across cultures and across classes and ethnic enclaves even within a single complex culture). Writers also produce the kinds of discourse that have evolved naturally within their cultures (e.g., sonnets or haiku, personal essays or research papers), which may not be familiar to the second language reader. Although certain kinds of disciplinary knowledge (like scientific knowledge) can reasonably be described as universal, second language readers frequently encounter topics and attitudes in their reading (as in the birthday party story) that are new or strange to them and interfere with comprehension. Thus learning to read in a second language not only entails mastering a new language in its written form, but also learning to engage in a new set of social practices that may conflict with those the reader is used to. Critical Literacy. During the past 10 or 15 years, a body of work has emerged in the field dealing with what is sometimes called "the politics of literacy," or, more grandly, "critical literacy," which addresses language teaching in relation to various sociopolitical concerns. The patron saint of this work is Paolo Freire who, in his earliest writings, made the valid point that in teaching so-called world languages to
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oppressed peoples, second language teachers should teach these languages as useful tools to be used in overcoming their oppression. Although some of this work is thought-provoking and a useful reminder that language teaching, like other kinds of teaching, does involve sociopolitical issues (Benesch, 1993; Gee, 1990), much of it grossly exaggerates the political dimension of language teaching. Much of it also, unfortunately, reflects the kind of political correctness that has made a laughingstock of many English departments at U.S. universities. Based on post-everything analyses that have largely been laughed out of the hard sciences as a result of physicist Alan Sakal's famous hoax (in which he submitted a transparent parody of postmodern discourse, "Transgressing the Boundaries-Toward a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity," to a major postmodern journal that promptly published the piece as a serious contribution to scholarship (Sokal, 1996; see Weinberg, 1996, for a lively discussion of this event), this work attempts to place language teaching in the van of a crusade for social justice. As Kaplan and Baldauf observe, however, ... one must be careful not to replace one kind of exploitation of minorities with another kind, or to replace one existing minority with a new minority created by the process intended to redress injustice ... This is in fact what Friere seems to recommend in his approach to the empowerment of minorities; he suggests turning the minority into a majority and creating a new minority out of the present majority so that the new minority may be exploited by the old minority. (Kaplan & Baldauf [r., 1997, p. 81) Such recommendations are, in any case, rarely feasible or in any danger of being implemented by people with real political power, and this work is full of Canute-like proposals for turning back the sea of history. The teaching of English as a second or foreign language is a favorite target, English being guilty of having acquired "hegemonic" status, and ESL teachers are frequently accused of aiding and abetting an imperialist plot by the United States and United Kingdom to take over the world by linguistic means, destroying other languages in the process (Phillipson, 1992). Since many in the language teaching profession seem committed to the simplistic credo "the more cultures and languages, the better" (as opposed to recognizing the obviousthat multilingualism and multiculturalism can be either a blessing or a curse, or a little of both), this work will always find an avid readership, but it seems to have little to contribute to the improvement of second language teaching.
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Of course, no human reader is ever just a generic text processor or a simple clone of all the other members of some literacy club (or even a combination of the two), though every kind of reading is strongly constrained by the nature of the reader's brain as a linguistic processing device and by the reader's social and cultural experience. Within these constraints, however, readers differ in what they read, how much they read, how well they read, and how much they depend on or care about reading. Every reader is, in short, an individual whose attitudes toward reading and reading behavior are, to a considerable extent, idiosyncratic and unpredictable. Moreover, to become a skillful reader, a reader must read a lot (just as a swimmer must swim a lot to become a skillful swimmer). Thus engaging in extensive reading behavior is a prerequisite for developing reading skills, especially at the level required for most kinds of formal education, and readers are most likely to engage in such behavior if they have access to texts that are interesting to them as individuals and relevant to their particular needs. Reading from this point of view consists of every individual reader developing a reading habit over time by reading texts of interest and value to him or herself and reading those texts extensively.
Case Studies and Reading Protocols. Case studies are one means of investigating readers as individuals, and the arguments that Neuman and McCormick (1995) advance for this kind of single subject research appear to apply with equal force to first and second language reading. Cho and Krashens (1994) study of a Korean girl who became enamored of the series of books about Sweet Valley High provides a wellknown example of such work. A second means of investigating readers as individuals is protocol analyses, which requires direct interaction with readers. Bernhardt (1991) makes a strong case for the use of protocols in researching, teaching, and testing L2 reading on the grounds that there is no way of predicting what specific problems a given group of second language readers will have in comprehending particular texts.
A major topic in the field of teaching L2 reading is extensive reading, many versions of which allow individual readers to select their own texts. Day and Bamford (1998) is an excellent overview; Krashen (1993) makes the case for this approach to instruction; and Elley and Mangubhai (1983) and Robb and Susser (1989) provide reviews of successful extensive reading programs. Since this is an approach to the teaching of reading, it will be discussed in more detail next.
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Reading is the hardest language skill to assess because so much depends on what is being read by whom. Beyond a certain minimal competence, there is no general proficiency in reading, every reader being more proficient at reading some texts than others. Thus any passage selected for testing will favor some readers and disadvantage others, since no two readers have exactly the same proficiency in language or exactly the same funds of knowledge. In testing reading comprehension, it is also difficult to determine what kinds of questions any reader who understands a text should be able to answer-that is, what constitutes reading comprehension for particular texts. In practice, of course, educators do attempt to assess reading skills, and Alderson (2000) provides a recent and comprehensive review of the most compelling work in this area. Significant variables identified include question types (e.g., multiplechoice versus open-ended); language effects (e.g., the language of assessment-L1 or L2); and second language proficiency (e.g., more proficient, experienced versus less experienced, beginning) (Wolf, 1993). In summarizing this literature, Carrell (2001) observes: What can safely be concluded from the results of research on the assessment of second language reading is caution in the interpretation of findings utilizing reading tests .... Performance on reading assessment measures is dependent upon many factors, including the assessment task type, the language of the assessment, the reading texts, and so on. Therefore, researchers often recommend multiple measures for testing reading comprehension.
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Reading Research and the Teaching of Reading
A major issue in the field of L2 teaching is the relationship between such teaching and research on language acquisition. Currently, many teachers, and many more researchers, seem to take it for granted that good teaching practices can and should be derived directly from research. The only problems with this notion that they recognize are identifying which research is best and filling in whatever gaps may exist. The road from research to practice is assumed to be a one-way thoroughfare with no
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detours, and teachers, who often take other routes, are frequently condemned for not basing their teaching on "scientific" research results. These are dangerously simplistic beliefs, because teaching and research call for very different kinds of knowledge and skills. As Ellis (1998) observes: Teachers operate in classrooms where they need to make instantaneous decisions regarding what and how to teach. Researchers, more often than not, work in universities, where a system of rewards prizes rigorous contributions to a theoretical understanding of issues. Teachers require and seek to develop practical knowledge; researchers endeavor to advance technical knowledge .... Technical knowledge is acquired deliberately either by reflecting deeply about the object of inquiry or by investigating it empirically, involving the use of a well-defined set of procedures for ensuring the validity and reliability of the knowledge obtained. Technical knowledge is general in nature; that is, it takes the form of statements that can be applied to many particular cases. For this reason, it cannot easily be applied off-the-shelf in the kind of rapid decision making needed in day-to-day living .... In contrast, practical knowledge is implicit and intuitive. Individuals are generally not aware of what they practically know .... [It] is acquired through actual experience by means of procedures that are only poorly understood. Similarly, it is fully expressible only in practice, although it may be possible, through reflection, to codify aspects of it. The great advantage of practical knowledge is that it is proceduraJized and thus can be drawn on rapidly and efficiently to handle particular cases. (pp. 39-40). As a major case in point, in the United States reading policy makers have recently adopted a very strong version of this teaching-derived-directly-from-research fallacy. In 1999, a committee of researchers dubbed "The National Reading Panel." convened by the director of The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) at the behest of Congress, submitted a report intended to assess the validity of current reading research and the implications of that research for the teaching of reading. This report attempted to establish (1) what constitutes valid reading research, (2) what research is most relevant to teaching, and (3) what the implications are of the research selected for "best practices" in the teaching of reading. As noted in the appended "Minority View," the findings of the panel are (not surprisingly, given the magnitude of the charge and the few months the panel had to complete it) suspect on all counts but especially on the question of teaching: As a body made up mostly of university professors ... its members were not qualified to be the sole judges of the "readiness for implementation in the classroom" of their findings or whether the findings could be "used immediately by parents, teachers, and other educational audiences." Their concern, as scientists, was whether or not a particular line of instruction was clearly enough defined and whether the evidence of its experimental success was strong. (Minority View, P: 2) This has not, however, prevented the widespread adoption of the report by U.S. school districts as the last word on reading and the teaching of reading, much to the detriment of reading teachers whose experience has led them to different conclusions from those of the report. The real issue here is not whether teachers or researchers know best, but what contributes most to success in the teaching of reading-or any other subject. The answer is neither research-based practices nor particular approaches, methods, and materials. The answer is good teaching. Speaking for himself and his associates, Richard Allington (2000) writes:
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Good teachers, effective teachers, matter much more than particular curriculum materials, pedagogical approaches, or "proven programs." It has become clear that investing in good teaching-whether through making sound hiring decisions or planning effective professional development-is the most "research-based" strategy available. If we truly hope to attain the goal of "no child left behind," we must focus on creating a substantially large number of effective, expert teachers .... Effective teachers manage to produce better achievement regardless of which curriculum materials, pedagogical approach, or reading program they use. (pp. 742-743) Thus the suggestions for teaching that follow are not offered as magic formulas guaranteed to produce success, but as guidelines that might be helpful to good teachers, who will know how to adapt them in practice for the particular students in their particular classrooms.
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The problem for most teachers of reading in any language is that reading does not generate any product that a teacher can see or hear. Reading is an invisible process. (It is therefore much like listening, but a teacher can ask students to perform tasks while listening-for example, giving students a dictation). Most teachers take the process for granted and go directly to the creation of a related product-for example, asking students to answer comprehension questions orally or in writing. These activities test reading but do not teach it, and this contributes little to improving any student's reading performance.
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Historically, procedures for teaching reading have often been divided into procedures for teaching intensive reading (working with small amounts of text in class to make various points about the nature of texts and the reading process) and procedures for teaching extensive reading (assigning whole texts to be read outside of class or in a reading lab setting). These are useful categories for structuring programs, but they do not shed much light on the purpose of asking students to engage in either kind of activity-that is, on how engaging in such activities can help them to become better readers. One good way of addressing this question is to turn the question upside down: How do people learn to read a language? And, once they have learned to do it, how do they learn to read better? The answer to both questions is surprisingly Simple. People learn to read, and to read better, by reading. No one can teach someone else to read: The process is largely invisible and thus cannot be demonstrated, and it mainly occurs at the subconscious level and thus cannot be explained in any way that a reader could make conscious use a£.2 However, anyone can learn to do it, just as anyone can learn to draw or to sing at some minimal level of competence. Every normal human being is capable of learning to read, given the right opportunity and guidance. The reading teacher's job is thus not so much to teach a specific skill or content as to get students reading and to keep them reading-that is, to find a way to motivate them to read, and to facilitate their reading of whatever texts they have chosen to read or been asked to read.
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The solution to this problem begins with locating appropriate texts, that is, texts that the reader wants or needs to read. Since people learn to read, and to read better, by reading, a major part ofthe reading teacher's job is to introduce students to appropriate texts-texts at the right level linguistically and texts that are both interesting to them and relevant to their particular needs-and to induce them to read such texts in quantity. For some students, it may be enough to make appropriate texts available, but for others, more guidance may be required. For the full range of students, the teacher must create his or her version of the literacy club and find ways to persuade as many students as possible to join and to become literate-that is, to read texts and to respond to those texts in the ways that typical club members do.
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As noted earlier, extensive reading programs have recently emerged as a major pedagogical response to the problem of finding appropriate texts for particular groups of readers or for individuals, and for inducing them to read such texts in quantity. Unlike earlier attempts to incorporate extensive reading in curricula, these programs are not mere components in a larger program that also involves intensive reading: The extensive reading is the program. Often called Sustained Silent Reading (SSR) today, these programs come in various forms. Under such additional acronyms as FVR (Free Voluntary Reading), DEAR (Drop Everything and Read), and many others, all of them require L2 students to read substantial amounts of L2 text. They differ with respect to degree of student choice: Some allow students to choose their own materials; some allow students to make choices from prescribed reading lists; some assign readings; and various combinations are possible. They also differ with respect to what is expected of participating students: Some require nothing more than the reading; some require summaries or book reports; and some require, more traditionally, exams or writing assignments based on the readings.
Procedures for facilitating L2 reading tend to focus on teaching the reader (any reader) how to manage reading as a cognitive process more painlessly and efficiently-that is, on making L2 reading as easy as possible for the learner. Most current work on the teaching of such reading takes this general approach, possibly because this is the one area in which reading teachers can justify doing some direct teaching. It also gives publishers something to publish, that is, materials for teaching strategies for reading.
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Thus in addition to providing-or providing access to-appropriate materials, reading teachers often teach cognitive strategies for reading, both for bottom-up processing (e.g., reading at a reasonable rate-which, as noted, really means reading in meaningful groups of words-and reading without stopping to look up words in the dictionary) and for top-down processing (e.g., skimming a text before reading and formulating specific questions that the text might be expected to answer). The following checklist provides an overview of the kind of strategies reading teachers often teach:
A CHECKLISTOF READING STRATEGIES: 1. Prereading. A. Bottom up, e.g., vocabulary building B. Top down, e.g., schema bulding C. Text attack, e.g., skimming 2. While reading. A. Bottom up, e.g., employing knowledge of morphology (any word with tempor in it has something to do with time) B. Top down, e.g., reading to find the answers to questions (SQ3R) 3. Post reading For example, asking questions based on purpose of text or asking questions that call for critical reading 4. Follow-up For example, moving on to other texts on the same topic or to other language modes (listening, speaking, writing)
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There is a substantial literature on the teaching of such strategies, both in the form of resources for teachers and text materials for students. In one of the better texts for teachers, Anderson (1999),for example, identifies, discusses, and promotes eight useful teaching strategies-activating background knowledge, cultivating vocabulary, teaching for comprehension, increasing reading rate, verifying reading strategies, evaluating progress, building motivation, and selecting appropriate materials-many of which entail teaching students to employ specific cognitive strategies for successfully decoding and interpreting texts. In fact, most of the current literature on the teaching of second language reading is largely devoted to the teaching of such strategies (e.g., Aebersold & Field, 1997;Nuttall, 1996;Urquhart & Weir, 1998;Day, 1993). So, for that matter, is much of the literature on the teaching of first language reading (e.g., Mikulecky, 1990).The first L2 textbook based on a psycholinguistic model and the first to incorporate this approach was Reader's Choice by Silberstein, Dobson, and Clarke (2002), which is now in its fourth edition, but many others have appeared during the past 20 years (e.g., Zukowski-Faust, Johnson, & Templin, 2002; Rosen & Stoller, 1994;and Mikulecky, 1990).
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As interest in the teaching of strategies developed, many reading specialists and teachers discovered that simply teaching students a list of cognitive strategies for reading did not help every student to become a better reader. As it happens, successful cognition, or thinking, must be directed and monitored by higher levels of cognition called metacognition, or thinking about thinking. The issue is not just what strategies can be used and how to use them, but when to use them and for what purpose. In dealing with real texts, the issue is always what problems the text is creating for the reader and what strategies he or she might employ to address and hopefully solve these problems. More recent work on reading incorporates these insights. In support of this approach, a number of research studies suggest that teaching reading strategies can have positive effects on the reading performance of second language learners. Carrell, Gajdusek, and Wise (1998)attempted to determine which of these studies met the criterion of teaching both cognitive and metacognitive strategies; they cite Carrell (1985) and Raymond (1993) as having fully met this criterion. Other studies of note include Carrell, Devine, and Eskey (1988), Kern (1989), and Zimmerman (1997)for the teaching of vocabulary.
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READING IN A SECOND LANGUAGE
Classroom Procedures: A Final Note
In addition to motivating students, successful L2 reading teachers do their best to facilitate reading for them. These two kinds of procedures are, it should be noted, complementary, since students who enjoy reading are more likely to read successfully, and students who read successfully are more likely to enjoy it. Because no two classes are alike, however, it cannot be assumed that any reading teacher can know in advance what his or her students' major problems will be. That must be determined by interacting directly with a given group of readers as they read. Good second language reading teachers create, as noted, a new kind of literacy club for their students, sharing their own reading and responding to it as native speakers normally do. They also read with their students, making use of such simple protocols as asking students to paraphrase what they are reading or to speculate on where the text might be going in order to determine what their real problems are. Bernhardt (1998) makes a compelling case for this, and reminds the profession that teaching any kind of reading successfully most often requires a skillful and dedicated teacher as well as motivated and competent students. There are no magic approaches or methods for the teaching or learning of second language reading, but good teachers and students, working together, sometimes get the job done successfully.
form er texts for eight useocabularv, strategies, LIs-many ir successtre on the ich strate)ay, 1993). ;e reading rodel and bson, and appeared Rosen &
l. To the great loss of the applied linguistics community, David Eskey passed away in October 2002 after completing the first draft of this chapter. Thanks to Eleanor Black Eskey for materials used in the final revisions of the manuscript. 2. It has been noted, however, by Birch (2002) and others that L2 readers whose L1 does not have a Romanized alphabet can experience difficulties with orthographic and phonological correlations that can be taught.
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1 prose for ),445-458. [ournal, 77,